Today, February 4, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph of Leonessa (Giovanni da Leonessa, 1556-1612), missionary, friar, and confessor. Saint Joseph is known for his brave and tireless preaching throughout Europe and Muslim lands, sacrificing his own comfort and safety to bring the Word of God to those in need.
"the inexpressible joy of being a son of St. Francis."
|Saint Joseph of Leonessa |
with Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen
Upon release, this zealous holy man sought audience with the Sultan, to preach the Good News in his court. Joseph was captured and condemned to death for his audacity, and was hung by metal hooks through his right hand and foot on the gallows over a smoky fire. There he remained, alive, for three days until (as Holy Legend recounts) he was miraculously freed by an angel.
Saint Joseph also spent considerable time and energy in feeding, clothing, and caring for the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned. He cultivated a garden from which to harvest food for those in need, washed the clothes of the poor by hand, cut their hair, and ministered to their spiritual needs. Never tiring, Joseph established hospitals, homeless shelters, and food banks throughout Italy. With his crucifix in hand, he would wade into gang fights and brawls, praying, and preaching peace and good sense. His nephew, also a Capuchin, praised his zeal, saying, "Wherever he found hatred and quarrels he went there in hope of restoring peace. He paid no heed to storms, snow, impossible roads. Exhorting, ’Lord make me an instrument of your peace!’ and clutching the crucifix to his heart or raising it to the heavens, no one could resist him.”
"Today is a Saturday dedicated to Mary. Like Francis, I will be happy to die on this day. Holy Mary, help the suffering." Dying peacefully, his relics are enshrined in Leonessa.
Saint Joseph suffered illness, poverty, and exhaustion throughout his life, never ceasing in his efforts to bring the peace of Christ to those around him. He embraced his suffering, contemplating the wounds of Christ, and frequently exclaiming, "When we suffer anything we give proof of our love." We look to Saint Joseph of Leonessa as a shining example of the union of joy and suffering made manifest by Our Lord on the cross, and the experience of Our Blessed Mother throughout her life. May we, like this holy saint, embrace our own personal sufferings as bringing us closer to our risen Lord, and for expiation of the sins of the world.
You made Saint Joseph an illustrious preacher of the gospel.
Through his prayers inflame us with love
and with his zeal for souls that we may serve You alone.
Year 2: Day 35 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Zeal for the Lord; Joy in our Sufferings.
Requested Intentions: Successful employment (N): Freedom from mental illness for a friend (L); For successful marriage (N); For friends having and recovering from surgery; for the reduction of a brain tumor (L); For resolution of a housing crisis (P); For a brother who is struggling financially, for a son who is struggling academically (B); For financial security for a friend (C); Success in business; familial happiness and health (J); Health and recovery of a sister (I); Development of a chaste relationship pleasing to the Lord (E); Successful surgery of mother; delivery of daughters’ babies (L); For a friend suffering with depression (M); For a friend entering religious life (R); Success of a parish men’s retreat (H); For a mother who is grieving; for the soul of a dearly departed son (M); Reconciliation of a marriage (M); End to grief after death of son (B&C); End to grief (S); Successful marriage (N); For an RCIA candidate struggling with financial and family stressors (O); Freedom from anxiety regarding medical procedure (J); Return home of an ill mother, peace and financial security (J); Healing of a father following stroke (S).